Academic/Campus Life

FAU Receives $1 Million Gift from Walter and Lalita Janke

Florida Atlantic University recently received a $1 million gift from Dr. Walter and Lalita Janke to establish the Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fund.

Lalita and Walter Janke


By Amy Haycock | 12/3/2015

Florida Atlantic University recently received a $1 million gift from Dr. Walter and Lalita Janke to establish the Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fund, which will support faculty research that advances knowledge and applications relevant for improving environmental sustainability.

The fund will be administered by the Center for Environmental Studies (CES) at FAU and will promote an annual $50,000 competitive research grant to a faculty researcher or research team at FAU. CES at FAU, which advances Florida’s sustainability by seeding collaborative research, education, and community engagement activities, has already leveraged additional resources for this competition, bringing the amount available in 2016 to $70,000.

“We are extremely grateful to Dr. and Mrs. Janke for their generosity and commitment to supporting sustainability research at Florida Atlantic University,” said Colin Polsky, Ph.D., director of CES at FAU and a professor of geosciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “I can think of no environmental challenge more pressing for society to resolve than renewable energy and improving our current energy efficiency. With this grant we will be able to leverage additional funding and support for research in this and other environmental research fields, such as wetlands ecology and coastal resilience, to engage our faculty and students from all colleges in the university.”

It is projected that 9 billion people will inhabit the Earth by 2050. Supporting this population will require sustainability innovations that build on the expertise and knowledge from not only the hard sciences but also the behavioral and social sciences, and the arts and humanities. The research focus of the Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fund will initially support innovative proposals that advance knowledge and applications on renewable energy and energy efficiency, conservation biology, urban area sea-level rise impacts and responses, energy-wildlife interactions, and wetlands biogeochemistry, among other fields.

“Sustainability is an immense challenge for society, but it also offers us tremendous opportunities to make a contribution to something that will have an extraordinary impact on our everyday lives,” said Walter Janke, M.D. “Lalita and I are extremely pleased to establish this fund in perpetuity to support important sustainability and renewable energy research at Florida Atlantic University.”

The Jankes were profoundly inspired by the book, “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,” and their journey to dedicating resources to sustainability came to fruition shortly after reading this book.

Their philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors extend beyond their commitment to sustainability and renewable energy. They established Camp Haven in Indian River County, which serves as a transitional home that provides supportive living opportunities and education to adults rising out of homelessness.

“We are delighted to continue our support of vital programs at Florida Atlantic University, and I invite others to help us with this important mission that will impact us not just locally but globally,” said Lalita Janke, who also is a member of FAU’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Advisory Board and FAU’s Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Advisory Council, as well as a former member of FAU’s Board of Trustees. “Our interdisciplinary approach with this endowment will bring the university together to transform lives in a very real way.” 

A selection committee will soon be established to review successful proposals for the inaugural Walter and Lalita Janke Innovations in Sustainability Science Research Fellowships. Several awards will be made, of varying levels. Successful proposals will support a feasible study on a compelling environmental problem, and include a plan for how to translate this seed funding into other funding once the project is completed. The winning proposal will be selected in early 2016 for research to commence as early as summer.

For more information about the Center for Environmental Studies at FAU, visit www.ces.fau.edu. For more information about supporting research at FAU, contact Joanne Nowlin at 561-297-0203.

-FAU-

 Last Modified 11/8/16